Purpose: The purpose of this study is to review research on hospital-based shared governance (SG), focussing on its core elements. Design/methodology/approach: A scoping review was conducted by searching the Medline (Ovid), CINAHL (EBSCO), Medic, ABI/INFORM Collection (ProQuest) and SveMed+ databases using SG and related concepts in hospital settings as search terms (May 1998–February 2019). Only original research articles examining SG were included. The reference lists of the selected articles were reviewed. Data were extracted from the selected articles by charting and then subjected to a thematic analysis. Findings: The review included 13 original research articles that examined SG in hospital settings. The studied organizations had implemented SG in different ways, and many struggled to obtain satisfactory results. SG was executed within individual professions or multiple professions and was typically implemented at both unit- and organization-levels. The thematic analysis revealed six core elements of SG as follows: professionalism, shared decision-making, evidence-based practice, continuous quality improvement, collaboration and empowerment. Practical implications: An SG framework for hospital settings was developed based on the core elements of SG, the participants and the organizational levels involved. Hospitals considering SG should prepare for a time-consuming process that requires belief in the core elements of SG. The SG framework can be used as a tool to implement and strengthen SG in organizations. Originality/value: The review resumes the tradition of systematically reviewing SG literature, which had not been done in the 21st century. General tendencies of the research scene and research gaps are pointed out.